Skip to Content

USFS permits to limit day, overnight use in 3 wilderness areas


The Deschutes and Willamette national forests issued a final decision notice Friday for the Central Cascades Wilderness Strategy Project, laying out plans to issue permits to limit day-use entry at trailheads and establish a permit system for overnight stays in three popular Cascade wilderness areas, starting in the summer of 2020.

From the Friday before Memorial Day weekend through the last Friday in September, wilderness day use will be managed with a permit system at 19 of 79 trailheads across the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas, the two forests announced.

· Mount Jefferson will have a day-use permit system at seven trailheads (32 percent of all trailheads),

· Mount Washington will have a day-use permit system at two trailheads (20 percent of all trailheads) and

· Three Sisters will have a day-use permit system at 10 trailheads (21 percent of all trailheads).

During the same time period, overnight use will be managed through a permit system at all 79 trailheads within the three wildernesses. Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak Wilderness areas will have no day use or overnight limits.

For both day use and overnight use, some permits will be available to reserve, while others will be issued either as next-day or same-day permits.

“The permit system will balance the needs of visitors planning trips as well as visitor spontaneity,” the news release announcing the decision stated.

For example, at Devil’s Lake/Wickiup, the day-use individuals quota will be 100 and an overnight group quota of 16 permits. The limits will be 80 day-use individuals and 14 overnight groups at Green Lake/Soda Creek.

“We are proud to issue this decision to protect the character of these special places for future generations,” Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen and Willamette National Forest Supervisor Tracy Beck said.

“We also recognize that conditions will change in the coming years, and we have included ways to adapt our management strategies to respond to unforeseen impacts and changing visitor patterns,” the two supervisors added.

Background: Both forests began public outreach for this project in the winter of 2016 after experiencing substantial increases in visitation between 2012 and 2016. During that time, visitation to the Three Sisters Wilderness increased by more than 180 percent, with some trailheads experiencing increases between 300 and 500 percent.

The draft environmental analysis was released on April 4, 2018 and through public meetings, phone calls, emails and letters, several hundred people commented on the draft environmental analysis.

The draft decision was issued on Nov. 14, 2018. Ninety people commented on the draft decision. Both Forest Supervisors as well as other Forest Service staff held eight meetings with objectors to resolve issues before the final decision was released.

Next Steps: Both forests will begin public engagement on how the permit system will be implemented following release of the final decision. The Forest Service will seek authorization through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) to charge a stewardship fee for wilderness permits.

Here’s the full final decision.

Also, here’s a page with background documents and information:

And a “decision points” memo issued Friday and provided below provides more details:

Overnight Use

All overnight use in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas will require a limited entry permit. No overnight use limits will be in place in the Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak Wilderness areas. Day Use

Day use will be regulated during the permit season at 19 of 79 trailheads in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas. Free, self-issue permits will continue to be required at: Waldo Lake and Diamond Peak trailheads (overnight and day use). 60 of 79 trailheads for day use in the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness areas that are not regulated. At all trailheads from the last Friday of September until October 31. Permit Exceptions:

Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) Long Distance permit, issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association for long distance hikers traveling more than 500 miles along the PCT. Camping is restricted to the PCT Corridor, and prohibited in certain high use areas. Hunters holding valid hunting tags: West High Cascade Hunt (119A) General archery deer hunt; exemption is only for day use. Scouting and group size: administrative decisions regarding scouting and group size will be determined in discussions with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and following additional data gathering by ODFW. Volunteers, while volunteering in coordination with the Forest Service Elevational Fire Ban

All campfires will be banned above 5,700′ elevation in Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wildernesses, as well as some areas lower than 5,700′. All campfires will be banned above 6,000′ elevation in Diamond Peak Wilderness. Site restrictions

Certain areas will retain existing designated campsite requirements Certain areas will have camping setbacks from water. Access Management

The trailheads to Broken Top and Crater Ditch will be pulled back to create one trailhead. Adaptive Management

The Forest Service will publicly share monitoring results annually, as well as any proposed adjustments to the permit system. Next Steps

The Forests continue to pursue a modest wilderness stewardship fee, which is still undergoing internal review. The goal is to solicit feedback on the proposed fee during the summer of 2019 and implement in 2020. Permit implementation details will continue to be determined, including: Proportion of permits available for advanced reservations, and proportion available the day before What date permits become available for advance reservation What offices will offer permits at the front desk. Cancellation and refund rules.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content